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Chattanooga, TN. (February 26, 2015) – Today the FCC cleared a path for EPB to bring high-speed broadband services to Tennesseans in areas around EPB’s electric service area who currently have little or no access to broadband service.
Commissioners approved EPB’s petition asking the FCC to remove a state restriction that limits the ability of local communities to control their options for Internet connectivity.
“We applaud the FCC for voting in favor of communities having control, at the local level, of their broadband futures” said Harold DePriest, President and CEO of EPB. “We look forward to being able to serve our neighbors with 21st century communications services. “
“Today’s decision is another great example of Chattanooga leading the way in the innovation century,” said Mayor Andy Berke. “By removing barriers to broadband access, we can help ensure digital equity and improve quality of life for our neighbors in Southeast Tennessee and beyond.”
With the FCC action, EPB is reviewing technical, financial, and legal issues to determine how it can best respond to the requests of surrounding communities for extension of EPB’s fiber broadband service.
EPB officials continue to pursue additional options through the Tennessee legislature for responding to requests of neighbors for extension of EPB Fiber Optics services to them. Tennessee Senate Bill 1134 and House Bill 1303 would remove the state territorial restrictions that currently prevent municipal electric systems from extending fiber services to neighboring areas that have requested them.
“Many neighbors have been struggling with the economic and educational disadvantages of not having access to broadband services,” said DePriest. “We are looking for the quickest path forward to help those neighbors join the 21st century information economy.”
“I applaud any effort to make high-speed broadband available to all homes and businesses in Hamilton County,” said Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger. “Today’s FCC decision and efforts by lawmakers in the Tennessee Assembly to remove territorial restrictions are moving us closer to that goal.”
Neighboring communities who wish to have access to EPB Fiber Optics services are encouraged to send requests from elected officials to EPB.
Once EPB has received a formal request for service from a community, EPB will evaluate the technical, financial, and legal feasibility of delivering service to the community.
EPB will extend service only into cities and counties that request EPB's presence and will only extend to areas where it is financially and technically feasible to do so.
“We’ll likely look to southwest Bradley County and the portion of Hamilton County that we do not currently serve first” said DePriest.
Established as an independent board of the City of Chattanooga in 1935, EPB is a municipally-owned utility that provides electric power and fiber optic communications services as a means of promoting economic development and enhancing quality of life across the local area.
EPB serves nearly 180,000 homes and businesses in a 600 square-mile area that includes greater Chattanooga, as well as parts of surrounding counties and areas of North Georgia.
In 2010, EPB became the first provider in the United States to deliver up to 1 Gig (1,000 mbps) internet speeds utilizing a community-wide fiber optic network that provides access to every home and business in its service area. In 2015, EPB became the first (and to date) only American ISP to make up to 10 Gig (10,000 mbps) internet speeds accessible to all of its residential and commercial customers as a standard offer.
EPB has also utilized its community-wide fiber optic network to deploy the most advanced and highly automated smart grid power management system in the nation. In recognition of EPB’s groundbreaking infrastructure, the Department of Energy and Oak Ridge National Laboratory are utilizing EPB’s smart grid as a national model for researching and developing best practices. EPB is also the first major power distribution utility to earn the USGBC’s PEER certification for having a highly automated, modernized electric power grid.